The mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning horrified the nation and left parents questioning how they can protect their children.
Twenty-six people were killed—the majority of them children between the ages of 6 and 7—at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
According to the Sandy Hook School website, school doors are locked at 9:30 a.m., and visitors are required to sign in. When violence erupted Friday morning, the school went on "lockdown," according to media reports. That meant teachers and staff locked students inside classrooms rather than risk evacuation. Parents were notified by a reverse 911 call that went out to all Newtown public school families, NBC reported.
Stories of heroic teachers and school staffers at the school have emerged over the weekend. One teacher locked all of her students in a closet to protect them.
In Enumclaw, the Enumclaw School District has similar protocols for emergency situations. Superintendent Mike Nelson shared the following information with us about local procedures.
Our school system has outlined emergency procedures for fire and earthquake that are practiced in various situations on a regular basis. We also have defined “lock-down” procedures that are practiced with students and staff. It is the lock-down procedure that we would use if an intruder entered one of our campuses or if there was a situation that warranted all students and staff to be secured. This procedure insures a way for communication and for the accounting of students and staff.
Our police departments have maps of all of our buildings and we have a communication system that directly links us to the police for emergency purposes. These two simple pieces are powerful in being prepared for an emergency event. We are working together as a school district and law enforcement agencies in providing our students with the safest environment possible.
It is so critical that we have systems in place to communicate with our families in emergencies. First of all, we have phones in every classroom with internal and external communication access. For global communication we have a School Messenger system that we can direct to call a family’s home, cell, emergency contacts or ALL of the above. We would also communicate this message on our School District website and Facebook page. In an emergency, we fully recognize our families will want quick and accurate communication.
Though Newtown, CT, is on the other side of the country, Friday's tragedy touched local educators deeply. Nelson sent a brief but heart-felt communication to staff Friday morning about how they might address the event with their students:
I'm grateful to each of you for the way you'll handle the situation within your context. The safety of you and our students is of critical importance to me.
May we all continue to keep our friends in Connecticut in our thoughts.
Several school principals reportedly received calls of thanks and appreciation from families on Friday as well. "One comment I heard was, 'You are our extended family and we know that you will do everything in your power to keep our child safe,'" Nelson wrote to Patch Friday. "I believe this is how each and every staff member felt when waking up this morning and even stronger now after this tragedy."
A separate communication is expected to go home with Enumclaw School District students Monday, he said.
Meanwhile, officials recommend the following as guidelines for talking about the shooting with your children:
See more coverage on Newtown Patch from over the weekend:
- How to Help Families Affected by Newtown School Shooting
- Vicki Soto's Graduating Class Establishes Fund for Fallen Hero Teacher
Follow the latest news from Newtown Patch.